Hemp Sesbania: Sesbania exaltata
Erect annual, reaching 3-6 feet in height, with distinctive seed pods and showy yellow
flowers. Primarily a weed of agronomic crops found in the coastal plain but occasionally
in the piedmonts of North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama,
Mississippi, and Virginia.
Cotyledons spoon-shaped (2 times longer than wide), thick, green on the upper surface,
gray-green on the lower surface, and without hairs. The first true leaf is simple,
subsequent leaves are composed of six to eight leaflets that occur oppositely along the
leaf axis (pinnately compound).
||Leaves: Composed of 20-70
leaflets per individual leaf (pinnately compound). Leaflets are arranged oppositely,
although individual leaves are alternate. Leaflets 1/3-1 inch long, 2-6 mm wide,
without hairs above and somewhat hairy below.
|Fruit: A legume containing 30
to 40 seeds. Legumes are linear, curved, 4-8 inches long, and often tipped with a
||Flowers: Two to six individual
flowers occur on elongated inflorescences with each flower occurring on a flower stalk
(raceme). Each raceme arises from the area between the stem and leaf petioles.
Flowers are yellow and may be streaked or spotted with purple, with the largest
petal reaching 2/3 inch in length.
|Stems: Green, without hairs,
may become woody with age.
Leaves composed of many smaller leaflets, large yellow flowers, and distinctive curved
seedpod, often tipped with a beak. These features distinguish this weed from most other
agronomic weeds, however seedling Mimosa (Albizia julibrissin) plants closely resemble those of
Hemp Sesbania. Mimosa seedlings are rarely encountered and will eventually become woody
and develop into a tree that may reach 40 feet in height. Additionally, with maturity the
individual leaflets of Mimosa leaves become more tightly compacted to the point that
neighboring leaves actually overlap one another. This is not the case with the much
wider-spaced leaflets of Hemp Sesbania. Hemp sesbania may also be confused with Partridgepea (Cassia fasciculata), however
partridgepea only has 16 to 30 leaflets per leaf and also has a distinctive spherical
gland near the base of each leaf petiole.